Western Conference Quarter Final Game 4 Preview

(Header courtesy theyslayedthedragon)

Well, it’s Do or Die now. A win tonight staves off possible elimination for 4 days. A loss sends the Canucks packing into the off-season with a whole lot of decisions to make. While a progression past this first round seems unlikely, if not impossible, Canucks fans are hoping to see their favourite team return home for at least one more game.

Tonight, though, the big question is: Will he or won’t he? Will Daniel Sedin be healthy enough to make a triumphant return to the lineup? Many Canucks fans are praying to see #22 on the ice tonight, in hopes that his return can spark the team into a belated appearance in the "win" column.

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Click past the jump for key performers and more detailed game information.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:00 PM PT

Radio: Team 1040

The Setup

The Canucks desperately need Daniel Sedin to return. They need his goal scoring. They need his puck possession capabilities. They need his magic with his twin brother. They need his production on the power play. They need everything that Daniel brings to the ice. Because everything that he brings is what the Canucks have been missing.

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Will it be enough? Surely Daniel’s return to the lineup would spark the power play, which has been the Achilles heel of the Canucks against the Kings so far in these playoffs. While the powerplay had slowed down since the great Boston game, it was still operating at a reasonable with Daniel. Since his departure courtesy a vicious elbow from Duncan Keith, the Canucks power play has succeeded on less than 8% of its chances. I’m no math expert, but that ain’t good, kids.

One other significant change that should be made, should Daniel return, is that David Booth could play on the top line along side the Twins. In line rushes yesterday, Booth and the twins were mathced up together, while Alex Burrows moved to the wing beside Ryan Kesler. While some folks question the separation of Burrows from the Twins, given that they have been a proven commodity over the past two seasons, this is more of an indictment of Kesler and Booth than anything else.

Those two were terrible together on Sunday, and neither player was able to produce much of anything. Ryan Kesler was on the ice for two scoring chances! At this point, Vigneault must be looking at any chance of maximizing a balance of scoring. Loading up one line does nothing for them, as the Kings and their well-structured defence could fairly easily neutralize a single, potent line. If the Canucks can spread scorig threats across two or three lines, then it gives them a greater possibility of scoring against a bad match-up from the Kings defence.

Of course, this all assumes that the Canucks actually test Jonathan Quick with legitimate scoring chances, and that Quick becomes somewhat human. So far, niether has happened in this series. It could be that Quick looks superhuman because the Canucks aren’t testing him, or it could be that the Canucks look like minnows because Quick is other-worldly right now. It’s probably a bit of both, but when the Canucks had 41 shots and garnered only 9 scoring chances, you have to think that it’s more of the former than the latter.

The Canucks have to get the puck in the slot and fire away. They have to have someone stationed in front Quick as soon as they gain entry into the offensive zone. They just aren’t making Quick work to make a save. And with their season on the line, they have to make that adjustment, or they’ll be cleaning out lockers instead of prepping for Game 5.

Game Notes

Vigneault has yet to name today’s starter, but we’ll update this post when he does. If Daniel is ready to go – which it looks like he will so long as he’s symptom free this morning – expect him to line up with his brother and Booth. The second line will feature Raymond, Burrows and Kesler while the Pahlsson centered checking line with Higgins and Hansen makes their reappearance. Maxim Lapierre, Malhotra and probably Zack Kassian are expected to play as the fourth line on Wednesday night.

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For the kings, Brad Richardson is likely to return from his appendectomy and should slot in on Los Angeles’ fourth line. Meanwhile the Kings experimented with a Mitchell-Greene checking pairing who could soak up some extra defensive zone starts if Daniel does indeed return to the Canucks lineup tonight.

Key Performers

Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick. The Kings have scored two even-strenght goals in three games and yet are poised to become the first club to advance past the first round this postseason. While Dustin Brown deserves credit for his four goals so far in this series, the major reason for that is the play of Jonathan Quick. Can he steal another game for the Kings tonight and put Vancouver’s season to bed?

Vancouver Canucks

Alex Edler. The Canucks only really have three top-4 defenseman this season, and they need all of them to play to their full potential if they want to get back into this series. The defenseman who has been furthest away from operating to his potential has been Alex Edler by a country mile. While he’s helped Vancouver outshoot the Kings, he’s been unable to spark an anemic power-play and his constant parade of unforced errors have hurt the team in critical situations. The team is in need of a miracle. Daniel Sedin returning to the lineup could qualify but so could Edler turning it around in this series, and showing up on Wednesday night like he did in Los Angeles two years ago.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

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  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Kings’ Jonathan Quick can be cracked; Canucks must shoot from slot (The Province)
  3. Is the Roberto Luongo era over in Vancouver? (The Province)
  4. Canucks must play Kings one shift at a time (The Province)
  5. Canucks, Penguins face early Stanley Cup exits (CBC Sports)